Rwanda has had a tumultuous history, most recently with a bloody genocide that killed 1 million people. It is a country that is very much still affected by this, as anyone over the age of 20 experienced it in some way. There is still much suffering and bias against those who survived and those who were the killers. There is an amazing priest by the name of Father Ubald who has started a class on reconciliation, in which he takes people from families who were persecuted and pairs them with the person who killed their family. They take a six month class together which focuses on confession and forgiveness on both sides. This blog post is written by Brigitte after she attended a recent graduation:
Rwanda is a country that experienced Genocide in 1994. During the Genocide, Rwandans who were already divided into ethnics and one of two dominant ethnic Hutu started killing the other Tutsi. After the war of liberation, the new government, that stopped Genocide, stated a special court (Gacaca). The court intended not only to reveal the truth but also help in reconciling those people. The judged sinners were given punishments that they performed being already in society. Even though those people were set in their community, it was observed that they were not living in a fully communion with victimized people. Considering this gap among his Christians, Father Ubald RUGIRANGOGA, entered deeply in. He, then, initiated a very reasonable program where the sinners who willingly agreed their sinners, to approach the victimized and win them by showing actions of repentance. The program, judged extremely good, started in his former Parish Mushaka is now spreading.
28/12/ 2014: It was an opening at Ntendezi Parish in Cyangugu Diocese where 19 of 25 people who started the above way for reconciliation were officially received in Catholic Church. Considering that it was not enough, as people who share the same faith couldn’t feel brotherhood life, Catholic Church put on Christian court (Gacaca Nkiristu). The last intends to reconcile both the criminals and victimized by the means of explicating the role that each one has to play:-victimized to accept to pardon, criminals to recognize their sinners and beg for pardon-. Within the mass came with their materials, tools, used in killing during Genocide. The 19 Christians were released after passing 6 months in sacrament excommunication.
In opening the main celebrant showed how one who reconciles with God values more than the 99 who think they are good, but who do not want to change. Thus, he called the attendants to accept to enter deeply in their hearts and change accordingly.
The first reading from Ezekiel (EZ 3, 16-21)
The reading calls us to help our people to reconcile with God. It clarified to us that whenever we don't do anything while facing happening sins, it will be our fault before God. Their sins will be counted to us.
The second reading (Hebraic 8.11-12. 17-17)
It showed the powerful of Faith through examples of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The faith is our soul savor.
Third reading the Gospel (Luc 2, 22-40)
When Jesus was offered in Temple and Simeon declared that it is enough for him because he has seen God.
In his homely Father Ubald declared that even though we are experiencing this case, there are a lot of people who are still bound with this problems-they don’t want people to talk about what really happen. He showed that this kind of ethnic segregation does not come from heaven. “God created only a man in his image.” he insisted. By then he explained how our Rwandan groups of people (ethnics) were based on the style of life. He illustrated the King Rudahigwa who used to call himself a muhutu of Rwabutogo who gave him cows, yet Rudahigwa was a celebrate person. Note here that kings used to come from only Tutsi ethnic which was considered mostly in ancient Rwanda.
He came on giving his own observation of the people who differently come from market. Being of different styles of living but who go together without any consideration. He really showed how all people who don't agree with him is not a real catholic Christian. “Christ came for all without considering different status of people. This is why whoever segregates people and arrives at killing some, sins,” He emphasized. The priests are the first to bear this feeling because they are the ones who failed as it is said in a Kinyarwanda saying: “iyo inka zonnye hahanwa umushumba” (when a cow damages the seeds of farmer, it is for the keeper to bear the consequences.) so are for the priests to bear firstly what their Christians have committed.
He then showed how both the criminals and victimized are all to involve in this reconciliation. He showed how surrendering their tools will release them from hallucination. “When the victimized see you surrendering willingly your used tools in genocide and observe where you depose them, they will no longer portray you in your first bad costume though they will see you as people who openly cut off from their ancient conducts” he told to them.
Commenting to the 1st reading, he thanked all who helped in up to that extent. He emphasized that if you see a sinner and you do not help him to come out of his sins his blood will be counted to you.
He called upon fathers who were in parishes during Genocide to return to their former parish for helping their former Christians. He declared that he feels well and very happy because his hurts has come down due to these people who are back to the church and go together in right way with other Christians.
Afterword, the Father Achille, a priest at Ntendezi Parish, who was the main celebrant called criminals in their own names and came kneel before the altar. They came accompanied by the people whom they sinned against. The lasts got their hands on shoulders of criminals, and all attendants hold their arms towards them. After a brief prayer for begging God to clean their sins, Father Achille thrown blessed water on them in order to symbolize that their sins were pardoned. Then, they hugged the people they victimized by saying that they will never forget that they are of the same womb. It was then of our turn for hugging them.
Then they got a gift of a light kindle imaging that they wish them not only to go in light but also to light for others. Whoever will see them observe in them a light, that they are converted.
By then they brought found tools that they used in genocide and were thrown on blessed water. In his prayer father Achille begged God to wash the cursed that had put on those tools. Within we experienced traumatism cases from some of the attendants.
One among the uncursed now, Gahutu Jean Bosco got a religious marriage with Nyiranzabonimana Adria. They also got their children baptized.
Before the last blessing, Father Achile presented guests and gave a speech to Executive secretary of Ntendezi Sector, who after presenting his invitees thanked all those who involved in achieving this state, among others: the initiator, Father Ubald.
Speech of executive secretary of Unity and Reconciliation commission.
He thanked father Achille who invited them, Father Eric who stayed in Mushaka. He thanked those who gave pardon for how they accept to open the door of criminals, he repeated Father Ubaldi “to give pardon is to get health, and untying the criminals” he insisted. He then thank too people who accept willingly to beg for pardon. He called the attendant to always remember what experienced from here. He called people too to feel brotherhood among them and consider Ndumunyarwanda project which is similar to ndumukristu.he thanked Fathers for how they know that ecclesia is not the building but hearts of Christians. Being in their young age, he recognized their effort. He thanked also Rwanda administration that foster dignity to all Rwandese.
He praised and thanked the spreading of this project.
The speech of Father Achille.
He thanked too all who involved in this project. He then showed how the idea came in his mind. Being aware of how his community prayed but were not sharing the same happiness. He went to tell it to Ubald, who rapidly understood and accepted to give hand in. He also thought about some excommunication for different faults so how about killing.
They need to continue this project so they need people to form formatters for this action. They need too to gather criminals and victimized in cooperative. They think also they will buy a car for this action. This action of preparation caused a credit of million and 200 thousands. He declared that the bad image they had had of renewing a spoilt action that intends to put in prison again some people. It is not that as shown.